Barnard Castle Revisited 197

I was pretty diffident a year ago in suggesting corrupt backhanders as a potential motive for Dominic Cummings to visit GSK in Barnard Castle, because part of me resisted the idea that even the Tories would seek to make personal profit from a pandemic. Since then, of course, we have learnt of the quarter of a billion pounds (yes, £250,000,000) given to family investment firm Ayanda Capital for PPE procurement for which Ayanda was utterly unqualified and unsuited, numerous other examples of closed bids and completely inappropriate awards. The UK seems not just to have returned to 18th century levels of corruption, but to 18th century lack of shame about it in the governing class.

I suppose at least yesterday’s announcement by Boris Johnson that 60 million vaccine doses will be “finished” by GSK at Barnard Castle dispenses with the argument that was thrown at me by literally hundreds of trolls that the Barnard Castle facility is only some kind of large garden shed and therefore could not have been involved.

We now know about Tory corruption in Covid procurement, which I could only surmise a year ago – and let me further commend to you last night’s Panorama on the barely functional private £27 billion (yes £27,000,000,000) test and trace system under Tory serial profiteer Dido Harding. But it does, of course, take two sides to make a corrupt deal. Surely a big company like GSK would not be involved in backhanders?

Well, GSK were fined US $3 billion in 2012 by US regulators for fraud – yes fraud, overcharging and making false claims about medicines. In 2016 UK regulators fined GSK £37.6 million for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Let me say that again – for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Defrauding the NHS. That is the moral level we are looking at here.

So to say that GSK are not averse to paying a bung is to put it very mildly. And to say the Tories are not averse to personal profiteering from Covid procurement is to put it very mildly. It seems like a match made in heaven. Now I do not claim this is what happened, and I have never claimed this is what happened. It is a hypothesis. But it seems a not unreasonable hypothesis. Particularly compared to Cummings’ official explanation for visiting Barnard Castle.

I came under massive troll attack for the suggestion last year. It was claimed that GSK Barnard Castle is not physically capable of involvement in vaccine production. That is now shown to be untrue. It was also suggested that such a deal would have been struck in the main boardroom in London. I think that is to fail to distinguish between the apparent deal and the backhander. The latter are very seldom arranged in main boardrooms.

Anyway do read my article from last year. With the extra knowledge we have now, it has matured pretty well given the amount of derision it received from members of our professionally uncurious and unquestioning mainstream media.

I should also mention that I received a whistleblower tip-off that Cummings had also visited the Honeyman Group while in Barnard Castle. I tried contacting them both by phone and by email and never received any response from the Honeyman Group, and have no further information to stand this up. If anyone can add anything on this I should be most interested to hear from you.


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197 thoughts on “Barnard Castle Revisited

1 2
    • Steve

      The Pope hasn’t forgotten him.

      Sent a personal letter.

      Didn’t make our MSM though.

      • POTUS

        It was the Pope who felled trump and the southern baptist redneck wasp masses when he did not give audience to pompeo who had travelled all the way to the Vatican hoping to get the Pope to ok trump POTUS reelection bid. The key northern “catholic” states then voted for Joe Biden.

  • Blair Paterson

    Barnard. Castle Domnic Cummings ???what, about Balmoral and Prince Charles and his 70 staff breaking the law but nothing said about ??? Why ???

    • Goose

      Obi-Wan upon arrival at Mos Eisley spaceport: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

      Clearly not familiar with the UK Tory party.

    • Tom Welsh

      One has to get up to speed on the jargon.

      “Free” means “free from all legal restraints”.

      “Independent” means “independent of all legal restraints”.

  • Dafydd

    Ah well perhaps this is a good time to apologise. When you originally posted your theory on the visit to Barnard Castle I dismissed the theory out of hand but said I would apologise if events proved me wrong. Perhaps the machinations of the Tory party are far too opaque for a simple valley boy to see through. Keep at it Craig and good luck for the future.

  • Casperger

    BBC chimes in, right on time, with a distraction from this huge, ongoing, swindling of public funds. (That’s right, “Taxpayers’ Money”)
    So look here! A terrible tale of corruption, in years gone by:

    BBC News: Lex Greensill: Labour questions ex-adviser’s No 10 business card

    Not-so-new Labour helpfully provides quotes to stand this story up.
    Are they ignorant poodles, or conscious actors in the brainwashing?

  • Paul James Devonshire

    This is a great bit of classic conspiracy rubbish. Make a claim, throw in a few facts that have nothing to do with the claim and hope that their veracity rubs off on your own crazy idea. Comical!

    • Goose

      There’s too much evidence of the Tories handing out contracts to cronies to simply dismiss it.

      You expecting the MSM to investigate?

      • Paul James Devonshire

        I don’t like the Tories but this one is a non starter. GSK, whose Vaccine business is based in Belgium, agree to manufacture a vaccine that has not yet been approved and has been developed by another company, after EC threats to UK vaccine supply, and this was plotted 11 months ago! If it is true it’s genius.

        • Goose

          Cummings talked about ‘doing [vaccine] deals, sorting out finance’ or words to that effect in the rose garden confessional Q&A after he’d read his prepared statement..

          He clearly had been given more authority in these areas than you’re implying. There was a big controversy at the time, if you recall over the fact Cummings was attending the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meetings, despite possessing no scientific qualifications. It was said he was the PM’s ‘eyes and ears’ but many suspected he was far more involved, as other SAGE members complained about his interventions during those meetings

          • CasualObserver

            Eyes and ears ? I’d suggest it was more likely that he was the PM’s brain.

            As for the conspiracy label that gets applied with far too much regularity these days, it might be worth remembering FDR’s dictum that in politics, nothing ever happens by accident.

          • Tom Welsh

            “I’d suggest it was more likely that he was the PM’s brain”.

            But but but… the PM hasn’t got a brain!

        • Giyane

          Paul James Devonshire

          The Tories are bored with wealth. What is wealth without exceptionalism? Cummings journey was purely for the purpose of proving he was above the law.

          I’ve driven lottery winners to places they can be seen by the crowds in a chauffeur limo. It’s the Jimmy Saville syndrome, that they can do what others can not do.

          The world has got by on zoom for a year without this ridiculous exceptionalism, and whatever he had to in BC could just as easily have been done by video call..

          Money is boring without villainy.

          • Goose

            Money is boring without villainy.

            That’s definitely a truism. That thrill seeking, risky behaviour seems to apply to many politicians, doesn’t it? There are are plenty of references to it in famous literature too, and TV and films; the excellent House of Cards and Francis Underwood’s behaviour really resonates because of it, power and corruption. The sort of egotistical people attracted to being in power over others are too often corrupt. Trouble is such behaviour is praised and rewarded, they call it being a ‘grown-up politician’, ie. a ruthless corrupt bastard.

            If there’s an open, transparent way of doing something or a underhand, secretive way, the UK political class will always choose the latter. Whether advantageous or not.

    • Casperger

      No claim, Paul James Devonshire.
      Just a timely observation.
      We learn by looking for explanations.

    • lysias

      GSK are a bunch of crooks. The heart failure from which I suffer may well be a result of taking their avandia (which they lied about) for several months.

        • Alex McEwan

          “Trust the science”? I certainly do but, let’s say “some” scientists such as those with big pharma financial interests and/or political association and/or ambition might just be a little less trustworthy.
          Ok I mean as corrupt as the worst of the tory party.

          • Johny Conspiranoid

            You can trust the scientific method but who can you trust to follow it?

    • Alex McEwan

      Classic conspiracy right enough; it’s how Big Pharma works, in this case in collusion with an individual whose stock in trade is conspiracy.
      (cf Brexit)

      As Craig rightly points out there are other obvious instances of tory acolytes, should that be “those who own the tory party” profiteering from the pandemic.

      It is not entirely outwith the bounds of possibility that Johnson’s craven inaction in the early days of the pandemic was designed to maximise the opportunities for just such profiteering.

      Such is the way of the over entitled rich and powerful, further empowered by a pm who is the epitome of a moral vacuum.

      • Giyane

        Alex McEwan

        Boris Johnson realised quickly that political bluff was never going to solve the pandemic because he was already bluff expert on Novichok and very few people believed him even then.

        That is the reason I trust the Oxford vaccine, because it is made by scientists , not politicians. Johnson , better than anyone, understood his own lack of credibility, and handed the entire pandemic problem over to competent economists and scientists to manage for him.

        Meanwhile Cummings was still looking for chances to continue bluff and spin, looking for ways to ingratiate himself to his masters by opening ways to profiteering.
        That’s why he’s gone, because he used the time that Johnson was incapacitated by covid to facilitate racketeering behind Johnson’s back.

        That’s not Tory racketeering that’s Cummings racketeering. Another example of a very weak ruler surrounding himself with flatterers and panderers which in the face of a real crisis is a total waste of time.

  • Goose

    BBC Newsnight covering the issue of slipping standards in public life and corruption, albeit, in the broadest most inoffensive way possible, so as not to provoke the Tories. Tory Ministers have been boycotting at least since the election despite the show’s obvious pro-Tory bias.

    The invited Tory MP boasting of little or no corruption, was a bit like a country with no laws boasting they have no crime. Absolutely relative of course to what’s codified.
    As stated by another guest the UK operates on trust; an assumption those in office have high ethical integrity and honour. But they clearly don’t.

      • Goose

        Hardly revelatory I’ll admit,…it’s always gone on.

        But we should at least strive for greater transparency and and a codified system. The public apathy about how our systems and checks and balances could easily be improved is the most depressing thing.

  • Antonym

    “The 60 million vaccine doses will be “finished” by GSK at Barnard Castle” = fill the ampules. The vaccine itself will be produced 30 miles away in Billingham in Fujifilm Diosynth.
    They did choose a good vaccine, that works even against the South Africa variant:

  • Polly Titian

    Another seldom discussed point is the UKG ordering 450 million vaccine doses, which is absurd for a population of around 60m but is coincidentally about the population of the EU.

    “The UK has ordered more than 400 million doses of seven of the most promising vaccines.”

    • Goodwin

      Yes, but not all at the same time, not all the same vaccine, and in the expectation that there would be delays and non-deliveries. It’s called forward planning. You’d complain if they didn’t do it.

      • Deb O'Nair

        “It’s called forward planning”

        Let’s remind ourselves of the ‘forward planning’ outcomes so far from the oligarchs quisling cabinet; the highest covid death rate in the world and the worst economic impact in the world.

  • Happily Vaccinated

    I live near Barnard Castle and know folk who work at GSK. It is a very important employer in a small remote town. The plant cannot MANUFACTURE vaccine but can FILL ampules with vaccine produced elsewhere.
    GSK is sufficiently profitable and competitive that it does not need to rely on backhanders although there are many parts of the world frequently defended by Craig where you don’t get a contract without one.
    Trouble is Craig, you’d rather we were still in EU and subject to their vaccine omnishambles. It must really piss you off that two of your favourite targets, Britain & Israel, are by far the best at protecting their people.

    • Laguerre

      “Britain & Israel, are by far the best at protecting their people.”

      You mean Britain & Israel are by far the best at handing out backhanders. Neither the one nor the other have produced much vaccine themselves.

      • Ingwe

        Israel only has a high vaccination rate if you discount the Palestinians. And it’s as an absurd proposition as the claims apartheid South Africa used to make about educating and feeding its people. True only if you discounted 80% of the population!

    • Bayard

      “I live near Barnard Castle and know folk who work at GSK. It is a very important employer in a small remote town. The plant cannot MANUFACTURE vaccine but can FILL ampules with vaccine produced elsewhere.”

      and the relevance of this to the BC plant being the place chosen for DC to meet with GSK is?

      “GSK is sufficiently profitable and competitive that it does not need to rely on backhanders”

      So it just does it for the LOLz? Is that an improvement?

      • Colin Smith

        DC did not meet GSK at Barnard Castle. It is a preposterously convoluted method for the two to discuss anything. The movers and shakers do not hang about at a remote industrial unit on a Sunday to do their business, with someone who has been out of the loop for a fortnight, and possibly about to lose his position as his boss was about to be forced out of office by illness, at a time when vaccines did not even exist.

        Yes, both of them are individually and quite possibly collectively corrupt, but his trip had nothing to do with it. The whole event was ignored by media despite their knowledge for over a month, before there was a decision to have a collective pile in, and continually refer to it to push various strands of their agenda.

        Anyone trying to make mischief out of this event destroys their own credibility, at a time when there is plenty to be outraged about being done in plain sight.

        • Bayard

          “Yes, both of them are individually and quite possibly collectively corrupt, but his trip had nothing to do with it. “

          So why did he go there? to test his eyesight?

        • N_

          You know what they say the plural of the word “reason” is, Colin? An excuse.

          Seriously…it was a Sunday…out of the loop…remote… Are you having a laugh?

          • Colin Smith

            It was a bottling contract for one of the latest viruses to be approved, one which would normally have been bottled in Europe except for the recent cross border disruption and export wars.

            It is this flat earth hanging onto a dodgy conspiracy that gets good stories tinged with nuttiness.

            They are not panto villans.

          • Bayard

            “It is this flat earth hanging onto a dodgy conspiracy that gets good stories tinged with nuttiness.”

            OK, so why do you think he went there?

    • Stevie Boy

      What GSK actually does on the Barnard Castle site is irrelevant, but they DO own the site.
      The suggestion is that a face to face ‘business meeting’ was held there OR in proximity to the site. That is certainly a possibility.
      If I hold a business meeting with, say, HSBC I do not need to go to Canary Wharf or China – a local branch would do ? Barnard Castle has the added advantage that it is near DCs family and not obviously at the GSK HQ – plausible deniability as the CIA say.

      • jake

        Stevie Boy,
        I’ll bet a pound to a penny that the great and the good had already deserted GSK HQ in the plague-ridden metropolis for their country houses, and if not working from home were doing so from company offices in the provinces.

    • N_

      The EU has a much lower rate of “reported deaths with Covid-19” than Britain.
      And the death rate didn’t triple in the EU December and January, as it did in Britain.
      Aw doesn’t the Daily Express tell you any of that?

    • Deb O'Nair

      “Britain & Israel, are by far the best at protecting their people.”

      Protecting, in the sense that 150,000 Brits are now dead from covid, and before that 100,000 had died prematurely in the previous 10 years due to austerity.

  • DunGroanin

    It seems I may not have to mail order my preferred vaccine all the way from China or SputnikV from the Kremlin – I just need to get across the Channel in a rickety boat and sneak onto the beaches of Dunkirk to partake in Mutti Merkels final act of wisdom for the future EUropeans from the continued attacks of Covid and Snake Oil Merchants.
    It will also set the EU formally on course to trade and further Energy security agreements with the SCO that will cover the largest landmass and the majority of the worlds population. West to East and North to South.

    Regardless of the Banker moles and Atlantic bridges in their midst.

      • DunGroanin

        The neoliberal Groaniad ditched me a few years ago hence my moniker.

        Merkel has been the GREATEST democratic western leader in at least the last 50 years. The EU would have succumbed to the worm tongue siths planted within to corrupt its continuing coalescence. She held them all off and will have seen off Macron too hopefully as he is spectacularly dumped by French voters actually bothering to turn out to vote for someone else. No not the Anti EU Front Nationale, before you ask.

        • portside

          Democratic? Hardly. She is the embodiment of the dead, postdemocratic TINA centre. Merkel has been Europe’s great austerity queen, a doctrinaire neoliberal serving big capital. Her vision for Germany is one of shrivelled public ownership and a minimal welfare state. Indeed, that is her vision for Europe as a whole.

          The Germany of Guardian readers’ imaginations – highly skilled, highly rewarded and empowered workers in gleaming factories – shrunk even faster under Merkel than it did under Schroeder. What has rapidly replaced has been crap jobs.

          The dismantling of worker protections, and the trend of business towards outsourcing to cheaper eastern Europe, has seen the number of low-paid, short-term mini-jobs shoot up, to the extent that they now account for more than a fifth of German employment. The proportion of Germans earning less than two-thirds of median income is now the highest of any state in Western Europe, and is fast approaching US levels.

          Merkel’s Germany was continually touted as the success story of the post-2008 period, piling up trade surpluses year after year. But investment has been among the least in the G7 economies, while the lower-middle and working classes – women especially – are encountering a degree of poverty and job insecurity they had never known.

          Merkel’s radical remodelling of Germany’s ‘social market economy’ on neoliberal lines was also intended to set down a marker for the rest of Europe; not just for the PIIGs, upon whom it is being ruthlessly enforced, but most importantly the big prize France. Merkel does not regard Macron as an adversary, as you seem to believe, but as a loyal ideological disciple.

          • DunGroanin

            They tried to get her out at their last election with the full back up of the Bannonite Alt-right ‘popular’ pop ups kippers , the AfD.
            It took 3 months for her to form the government.
            That was the disaster for the Warmongering Global Robber Banker Barons.
            It was the end of Isis in Syria and US escalation to effect regime change and go up against the Russians. It meant that Nordstrom would be completed and put into operation. And it definitely guaranteed that the BrexShitheads would get to eat their cake with an escape from the level playing field and setting up of Singapore on Thames.

            Amongst many other achievements she has ensured German Covid excess deaths are a third of the U.K’s.

            The trouble with many is they don’t know what they got till it’s gone!

            Like a post war Labour Party and all its great creations such as the NHS.

          • portside

            She is the darling of the centre-right Guardian and its readers, who either praise her neoliberal structural reforms or else just pretend not to know about them (even after they’ve been appraised of them )

  • Paul Garrud

    Perhaps I’m being naive here, but isn’t it likely that GSK was being sounded out about taking in the production of the Oxford vaccine. Clearly several pharmaceutical firms were at the time before, eventually, AstraZeneca took up the challenge. I’m not sure that the visit was corrupt, just being kept confidential and, of course against the lockdown rules in force.

    • Count Jimmy Riddle

      Paul – if Dominic Cummings was involved, then it’s a safe bet that it was corrupt.
      But I’m more inclined to the theory that he just popped in to the pharmacy for a packet of viagra.

      • N_

        Cummings knows more about drugs than a person might whose main encounter with drugs was buying Viagra at the pharmacy. The guy and his family used to run the Klute nightclub in Durham, notorious far and wide. That was before he went to Russia and was involved in setting up an airline that had only one route, to Vienna.

        • N_

          And let no-one forget this beauty from Dominic Cumming’s blog, 4 March 2019 (it’s still there):

          A hypothesis that should be tested: With a) <£1million to play with, b) the ability to recruit a team from among special forces/intel services/specialist criminals/whoever, and c) no rules (so for example they could deploy honey traps on the head of security), a Red Team would break into the most secure UK bio-research facilities and acquire material that could be released publicly in order to cause deaths on the scale of millions.

          People should read that suggestion very carefully. He was not saying that his criminal team (and this would certainly be a criminal team regardless of whether guys from the SAS or SBS were involved) should break into a bio-research facility and leave a note saying “Your security is rubbish!” He was saying they should literally steal bio agents (i.e. bacteria or viruses) that could literally kill millions of people.

          And less than five months later he became chief adviser to the prime minister.

  • N_

    It’s worth mentioning Boris Johnson’s obscene declaration – that he told everyone present to forget – that Britain’s “vaccine success” is down to “greed” and “capitalism”. This is not the first time that this guy has made a “greed is good” statement.

    As for “vaccines success”, that’s all sh*t talk, aimed at idiots who don’t bother to find out what’s going on outside their own village. Britain has had a f***ing appalling record with this virus, much worse than most EU countries, and the “reported” death rate in Britain per 1 million population has been much higher than most countries in Europe and higher than in every country outside of Europe, even higher than in the USA, the worst hit country in America.

    So not only is the very idea of “vaccine success” nothing but propaganda for Big Pharma, but Boris Johnson is laughing behind is hand at the British population when he says this great “success” was brought about by “greed”.

    Meanwhile, I won’t be at all surprised if the regime offers youngsters free or cut-price booze in return for being vaccinated, or a “pub passport” or whatever the gutter and “quality” press will be told to call it.

  • John Monro

    I have to agree with other commentators that you seem to be adding two and two, and getting five. Now, that’s not to say it’s totally impossible that what you seem to be suggesting is that DC went to Barnard Castle to see some representative of GSK, but honestly, it does seem pretty unlikely. Knowing the deviousness of DC, and the past criminality of GSK, doesn’t mean that they always behave that way. But it would be true, that if it were definitely found that DC had had contact with GSK, then that would in itself raise serious questions, because why would DC or GSK endeavour to keep it secret? I have to say this link is, without further information, tenuous, and Craig, it’s important for your own credibility, that you only suggest a conspiracy when you know rather more about it and have something to back your claim up with. The Nicola Sturgeon “conspiracy” being a rather better example for instance – though even here, a more believable claim is not the same as having the truth of the matter.

    • Goose

      No less credible than Cummings’ claiming he drove the 30 miles to Barnard Castle to ‘test his eyesight’.

      Look at the evidence : On SAGE; claims he was responsible for sorting out vaccines and organising govt finance re that, at Barnard Castle when supposedly sick (only admitted because some random person identified him and got his car registration). All these premises seem to lead to that being at least a highly likely conclusion, it’s not some wild conspiracy something plucked out of thin air.

      • John Monro

        No, it isn’t “a wild conspiracy picked out of the air”, Craig Murray’s not that silly and nor am I. But, there’s absolutely nothing about this event that so far is anything other than conjecture – to say it’s a “highly likely conclusion” isn’t justified at all, in my opinion. Craig Murray has a lot of serious issues on his plate, and a reputation for serious enquiry, and I was just suggesting he’s got more than enough things to think about than this event – he doesn’t need to chase more conspiracies that could make him seem an unreliable commentator and damage his reputation – he’s already got a reputation as a “conspiracy theorist” ‘but I know that’s mostly a put-down by the ignorant and unconcerned. But he does seem to know a lot of people and does get tip-offs, so we’ll see what transpires.

      • sopo

        There are literally only 2 things at Barnard Castle. 1) Barnard Castle, and 2) GSK facility.

        We know for a fact that a) Cummings drove to Barnard Castle, and that his excuse b) to test his eyesight, is bullshit.

        We also know that there was a coronavirus lockdown in place at the time AND that Cummings sat on committees that provided him with access to the planning for the vaccine response.

        We are supposed to believe it is pure coincidence that Cummings drove to Barnard Castle, the location of a GSK facility, during a pandemic lockdown, when we know that his reason for doing so was the ludicrous “testing his eyesight”. In fact, this excuse was probably deliberately chosen because it was ludicrous; better to be mocked as an idiot than state the true reason.

        • John Monro

          I would have thought it likely by now, if this “meeting” had taken place, there would have been some other leak, from someone, who’d seen Cummings near the facility though of course with Covid, there’d be many less folk around. I am not discounting the possibility, but I still believe, without further evidence, Craig is misguided to say anything too much about it.

  • N_

    Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson are both major security risks. That they ascended to 10 Downing Street shows that British national security is falling apart. In Cummings’s case, just look at what he wrote about stealing bioweapons (or bio “agents” if you like, but any agent like that is obviously a weapon). And then a few months later he’s in Number 10. In Johnson’s case, it’s an open secret that what has been revealed about his “swordsman” problem is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Then look at types like Priti Patel and Gavin Williamson who both fell from the cabinet not because of “mere” crookedness à la Mandelson, but because of undeniable national security issues. (Patel was caught conspiring with a foreign power and lying about it; Williamson was sacked for leaking material from the National Security Council). And yet Johnson – himself a security risk – appointed these two other security problems back to the cabinet.

    Then there’s a crook like Esther McVey with her gangland connections in the North West of England.

    And there’s Jacob Rees-Mogg about whom some kind of “compromise” must have been made, since if he wasn’t considered suspect he’d be in the cabinet. But instead of being in it, he just sits in at its meetings as a non-member.

    If there were actually an “opposition” in Britain, it would make all of these points. Remember how the Tories fell from office in 1964? But no. “Sir” Keir Starmer can drape himself in the Union Jack but he can’t bring himself to say any of this. He’s too busy brown-nosing Israel.

    Hopefully I am not the only reader who remembers Corinne Souza writing in Lobster 40, “SIS is dead”. Prescient words.

    Trolls who think they’re working for “what is proper”, i.e. for the royal family, the Tory party, Oxford and Cambridge, “received pronunciation”, inherited wealth, vomiting up Pimms on “chavs”, and defecating on working class single mothers living in social housing, might like to ask themselves some time who is actually giving them their orders regarding what to troll about.

    • N_

      It’s also worth pointing out that another person who sat in on the cabinet as a non-member was Boris Johnson himself, when he was Mayor of London.

      That’s not a new precedent, by the way. Sadiq Khan doesn’t sit in on the cabinet. It’s nothing to do with the position of mayor of London. Johnson went to the same school as then prime minister David Cameron, and is a friend of “Two Beads” Lebedev, whose money comes from the murky world where the ~KGB intersects with the City of London. If Cameron had been Labour, the Peter Cruddas crookery involving “selling access” to the prime minister – a e-typically British circumlocution for bribe-taking and corruption – would have seen him out of office within days.

    • Bayard

      “Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson are both major security risks. That they ascended to 10 Downing Street shows that British national security is falling apart. “

      It depends on what you mean by “security risk”. DC and BJ are not risks to the security of the Establishment, and that’s the security that counts.

  • N_

    The size of the Track and Trace scam is almost too big to wrap one’s head around. It’s far bigger than say the Millennium Dome scam or the rail privatisation scam.

    The usual question: who should a person vote for if they’re against this?

    Surely the scale alone indicates this is a case of grabbing whatever’s worth something when an edifice starts to collapse? Another couple of heists like this and there won’t be much of an economy left.

    • Bayard

      Yup, the upfront cost of a 5% pay increase for NHS workers has been calculated at £1.7Bn. Even ignoring how much of that would filter back to the public purse in the way of increased tax receipts, the money spent on a non-operational track and trace system, which should have cost no more than 20 times that developed in Ireland, i.e. £15M, would pay for the increase for fifteen years.

    • Goose

      The size of the Track and Trace scam is almost too big to wrap one’s head around.

      Dido Harding can probably wrap more than her head around it…. £37bn and ‘no clear impact’. Colossal amount of money wasted and no serious protest from establishment / security state golem, Sir Keir.

      As many will know, there’s a worldwide semiconductor shortage and countries are scrambling to build fabrication facilities (fabs) to end overreliance on Taiwan’s TSMC, Japan being the latest. Cutting edge fabs can cost tens of billions to build, but provide self-sufficiency, status and high skilled, well-paid jobs and cutting edge research and incredible returns. We even had, in ARM Holdings our own potential Intel/ AMD equivalent – a leading semiconductor designer. Unthinkable the US would allow either of Intel or AMD to fall into foreign hands like the UK govt allowed with ARM.

      • Goose

        The ‘Vaccine passports’ contract(s) will likely be the next Tory donor crony troughfest bonanza.

  • Bayard

    “The UK seems not just to have returned to 18th century levels of corruption, but to 18th century lack of shame about it in the governing class.”

    The lack of shame was presumably because it had been going on for generations and it was accepted that that was the way the business was done. In any case, we are talking about a much smaller government share of economic activity and a much more lightly taxed population.

    • Squeeth

      No, the state is far more involved in the economy and society than in 1970. All that Callaghan and Thatchler changed was the means of control, public corporations to private monopolies. Politically, the Liarbour Partei has stopped pretending that it isn’t a Tory 2nd XI and the police and spy gangs are using the blunt instrument of colonial repression now that the vulgarity of trial by jury and the presumption of innocence have been swept away.

      • Bayard

        I was not comparing today with the 1970s, but with the 1770s. A study of history shows that this level of corruption is the “rest state” of politics, with only brief periods of relative probity caused by incorrupt autocrats and upheavals like major and civil wars.

  • Lorna Campbell

    “… I came under massive troll attack for the suggestion last year… “

    Indeed. Because you were right. For some people, there is no lower bar that they will not slither under. It really is that simple. ‘Clean tatties’ are usually passed over for the ones covered in dirt. Human nature never ceases to not surprise.

  • Eoin

    In Ireland, we have a very poor opinion of GSK, which, between 1934 and 1973 carried out medical experiments on orphans and babies of vulnerable women in institutions run by nuns. It’s real John Le Carre, Constant Gardener stuff of nightmares. This is a recent report by Irish state broadcaster RTE

    It’s historical of course but shows the willingness for corporations to do what it can get away with, however unethical. Fortunes are made in highly shady circumstances in times of war and crisis, seems the Covid pandemic isn’t any different.

    • mark golding

      Thanks Eoin: In a letter to GSK’s chief executive, Dame Emma Natasha Walmsley, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he believed all relevant parties, including GSK, had a “moral and ethical obligation to take appropriate action” in response to the commission’s report.

      “The trials broke numerous ethical and regulatory standards – there was no import licence in place for the vaccine, the researchers did not have a licence to carry out research in a children’s institutions and there was no evidence that consent was properly sought or received.”

      The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was set up in the wake of the Tuam babies scandal, when it was reported that over 800 children had died in a mother and baby home in Tuam in Galway.

      Many of the babies were buried in 20 chambers, built within a decommissioned sewage tank, described by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a “chamber of horrors”.

    • ET

      For this and many other transgressions every asset owned by the Catholic church in Ireland used for public purposes, such as schools and hospitals, should be immediately confiscated by the state without compensation. Why has this not yet happened?

      • Xavi

        The State is still the conservative FG-FF duopoly who enabled and covered up the Church’s crimes throughout the last century. Get rid of them and everything else will follow.

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